Compare and contrast American slavery with Russian serfdom

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I tend to think that both conditions are similar in that bondage is the shared trait in both.  Serfdom in Russia involved the exploitation of one person at the hands of a wealthier and more powerful other.  This is the same in the American South, where the slave found themselves as manipulated by the White plantation owner.   In both, violence was used to ensure that obedience was displayed.  Yet, I tend to think that American slavery was more horrific in its implications.  For example, the Russian serf was never taken from an external country and traded on the block with as much frequency as the American slave.  The Middle Passage and slave auction could be two distinguishing factors in the American slave experience differing with the Russian serfdom. Another significant difference between both conditions is that the ending of the Russian serfdom happened more as a consequence of the passage of time.  American slavery only comes to an end because of the brutal and intense nature of the Civil War.  There is little else that brings about the end to the institution of American slavery, an upheaval and intensity not seen in the Russian serf condition.